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By ALVIN HOLLINS JR.

The Legacy Bowl, a postseason football game set to pit champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), will apparently come up for a final vote by the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s Council of Presidents (COP) in March.legacy_qmark

What remains unclear is whether there will be any NCAA postseason options for the MEAC, after a 2010 season which saw the league place two teams in the championship tournament.

Even if the MEAC chose the SWAC/Ivy League/Roberto Duran NO MAS to the NCAA playoffs route, how do the two leagues benefit from a deal which, according to details released in August, have the participating schools may have paying their way to the game, along with their bands, cheerleaders, and accompanying entourage.

If the participating schools couldn’t expect a payout at least comparable to a guarantee game with a I-A team or even a low-to-mid-level I-A bowl, then what's the point of it all???

We already have a MEAC/SWAC Game every year now – the season-opening Challenge, that has had mixed results attendancewise on Labor Day Weekend in Orlando.  Those mixed results moved the MEAC to persuade a local team – resurgent Bethune-Cookman from nearby Daytona Beach – to play in it to boost the gate against another revived program – Prairie View (Tex.) A&M in 2011.

Maybe by March, the leadership of the two leagues will have figured out how to underwrite most of the event costs. But will there be enough left for the two schools to take home, and for any conference revenue sharing, which was one of the stated goals for this revived postseason event?

HBCUs are strapped for cash and are running our Division One programs on a shoestring – ask Delaware State having to put more financial resources towards women's sports, or Southern having to cut as much as $500,000 out of their operations budget for athletics this year alone, in addition to dropping several sports.

And you can bet the coming state budget cuts across the country will impact Athletics too – probably cutting some needed support staff and resources from some already bare bones situations.

Now if the Legacy Bowl was part of a new, innovative and aggressive strategy to market our leagues to increase visibility, generate more broadcast opportunities for radio, TV and Internet and generate increased revenue that could be shared with league members, then it would be worth considering.

So perhaps the time has come for HBCUs to think seriously about how much value we put on being in the playoffs or even in Division One with all its requirements and stipulations, because it appears that we are not building our programs to do more than just win the conference, which is what we were doing anyway.

If where we are at the present time is the best we can do competitively after 30-plus years of Division One membership, we seriously need to rethink our position – first developing a real battle plan to make our programs Division One ready.

I mean other than having to stretch dollars you really don't have to sponsor more sports than you can afford; to run a department with 1/3 of the staff of comparable Division One schools our size; having to put up with increased rules compliance and academic standards that were designed for the big schools who have tended to exploit their student-athletes (mainly Black kids) – where have we HBCUs really benefitted from Division One membership???

In football, we still play predominately Black schedules, with the majority of our out of conference (OOC) events against either other HBCUs or guaranteed money games against power conference members.

And basketball is only marginally better with a boatload of guarantee games plus the traditional conference schedule – so how have our programs really grown in 30-plus years?

Apparently the future direction of the Division One’s HBCU football conferences will be hanging on the next chapter of the sports miniseries “The Decision.”

STAY TUNED.

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